Outstanding customer support is one the most important differentiators for a well-run software business. However, providing extraordinary support that delights your customers can often come at the expense of maximizing profitability. At Perseus, we have put a lot of effort into streamlining our support function to optimize customer satisfaction and profitability. This article focusses on one simple but very effective best practice that we have coined the “Golden Ticket”. Go behind the scenes to see how we sped up response times and enhanced customer service.
Most customer support calls start with an incident report or a “ticket”, but are all support tickets created equally? An experienced support professional would say no. Tickets are as individual as the customers from which they come. This can result in tremendous inefficiencies for even the most experienced support teams as they try to decipher the root cause of each incident.
Tickets can be created for various reasons, therefore for better tracking and work flows, most support departments categorize them into areas such as:
The first category, “issue,” often takes the most time to resolve. To address this, we at Perseus Group, employ the “Golden Ticket” best practice for issue tickets across our software companies. Based on our experience, we have found that this practice can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of support teams at any software organization.
The Golden Ticket is an IT support ticket with enough detail for the team to resolve the issue correctly and as efficiently as possible.
Quality customer service begins with getting the right information. In practice, there are a lot of “grey” tickets that lack the appropriate level of detail. In these cases, support representatives will spend too much time theorizing about what the customer needs. They may spend 30 minutes on the initial problem trying to understand the issue. After that, there may be an “e-mail loop” with the customer, where they go back and forth exchanging more information. In practice, some software companies see this go on for over seven labor-hours or seven days before being handed off to a developer or a subject matter expert.
To make matters worse, support team representatives can follow “red herrings”, which involves going down a wrong path due to incomplete or conflicting information.
A Golden Ticket addresses these pitfalls by mandating the following:
a. Who is involved
b. What occurred – being as specific as possible
c. When the issue occurred
d. Where the issue happened – which device, operating system etc.
e. How it happened, including the steps to duplicate the problem and which screens
To clarify, grey and golden tickets further there are a couple of examples below:
Subject: Appointment is attached to 2 orders but does not appear on screen 224
Description: One appointment is attached to two orders but doesn’t appear on screen 224. How can we delete on screen 225? The notes are not appearing on the booking.
The customer does not say which user it was, which order the issue involves, or on what appointment. Additionally, the IT support analyst has no idea when this happened – it could have occurred a few minutes ago, or three weeks ago. On the last line they point out that notes are not appearing in the booking, which is a red herring for the IT support agent. They also did not say which steps they took to complete the task, leaving the “how” in question. There could potentially be two issues in this ticket. As a result, this is a grey ticket.
Subject: Scheduling Administrator found Trainer's Appointment is attached to 2 orders but does not appear on screen 224
Description: Our Scheduling Administrator, Karen Wong, found Trainer's Appointment (A32432) is attached to 2 orders (3212 and 3213) but does not appear on screen 224 using her Windows 10 laptop and Chrome browser. This occurred at 10:32 AM Eastern Time on January 8th. The Trainer is Mike Jones (Employee ID 818) and the customer is Erin Giddings (Customer ID 23212).
This ticket was very specific. It details the user, the site, and the environment. Everything needed to understand and diagnose the problem has been provided in the initial interaction with the customer. Both the customer and support organization will benefit, since the issue can be resolved quickly and there is no circling back. This is a golden ticket.
Getting a detailed description speeds up prioritization, problem identification or debugging, development, testing and documentation. It also helps to detail the steps required to duplicate the issue. From a Quality Assurance (QA) standpoint, the team can add this to their testing scenario suite.
All this talk of Golden Tickets is only theoretical if it isn’t put into practice. Getting your customers and team engaged is a key step to rollout.
To get your customers on board, the Golden Ticket is a great agenda item for a user group with an IT support manager presenting, or even a regular webinar.
Start by demonstrating the value for the customer. When discussing the Golden Ticket, you want to present it as a way to get customer issues resolved more quickly. Let them know that you want to improve your service, and that you need their help.
One effective way that our portfolio companies get buy-in is to be transparent and show each customer their current resolution times vs. targeted resolution times.
If you have a form-based ticket submission process, you could have a detailed form appear for “issue” tickets, and encourage customers to include a screen shot. When receiving a phone call, the IT support agent could use detailed prompts for “issue”-type tickets.
Add “tips for submitting tickets”. On Wix.com, they advise “Be descriptive; make sure to add as much detail as possible including your site name and page name.” This could also be sent as a regular e-mail communication.
Response times are key when it comes to managing an IT support team. They are often separated into several sub-tasks, including:
Helping your team understand that they can improve their response times and replies per ticket by getting more details from the outset, can create better habits.
Golden tickets are a “win-win” scenario for management, support teams and customers. They create clear communication between all parties and a shared understanding. Most importantly, customer retention and satisfaction will improve with faster and better service.
Perseus Group, an operating group of Constellation Software Inc., acquires independently managed software companies around the world. We provide them with the strategic guidance and the financial security that they need to become leaders within their respective markets. We prefer to treat our acquisitions like people, not property. That is why we ensure their growth and development through a fostered culture of sharing best practices. Contact our team to learn more.
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